iPhone 4 Hands-on Review – 48 Hours of Ownership

Yup – I queued up on the off-chance that I could score an iPhone 4 on release day. I attempted to get up early but the night before still loomed over me, wagging its finger and laughing.

At 3pm I decided to give it a shot.

150 minutes minutes later I was leaving the store with my new iPhone – WIN!

I got it home and opened the box and thought – well, it looks like an iPhone. Not in a negative way but the black screen looking up at me didn’t give me a thrill on first sight. I’m just being honest here.

Once I got the unit out of the box I realised that the photo’s had not really done the design justice. The reinforced “aluminosilcate” glass on both front and back of the steel case makes my old 3G seem quite plasticky. The iPhone 4 fits better into Apple’s designer family and, to me, feels like a good solid bit of audiophile equipment – but I must say that the 3G sat in my palm more comfortably.

Then I switched it on – OMG!

The colours! I rushed to hook it up to iTunes. A while later all my backed-up apps, contacts, notes, etc had gone over to the new phone – more colours with the new hi-res icons and text all serve to make the screen look utterly fantastic πŸ™‚

All those pixels on the screen means that you can keep zooming in without pixelation – it makes reading purchases from iBooks a real pleasure and video podcasts, tv clips and YouTube posts really jump out.

The screen is really responsive and everything pops up quickly thanks to the A4 chip. I’ve even gone back to using the iPhone’s camera app now that the lag has gone. Browsing is swifter and the whole mutlitasking makes navigating from app-to-app a breeze πŸ™‚

Talking about the camera – the new sensor is really good and takes detailed snaps. It seems to deal with the differences of high, low, and medium light within a shot really well. I’m liking that you can tap the screen to pull the camera’s focus – the iPhone then auto-adjusts the exposure based on your chosen focal point. There’s the fab addition of an icon in the top right of the view-finder that flicks over to the front-facing camera for self-portraits. The flash is decent enough to illuminate the darker venues. Video is another reason to love this iPhone. I love the fact that I can take HD [720p] video on something so slim. The main camera shoots 1280×720 and the front-facing one (for FaceTime or perhaps 12 Seconds shoots at the lower 640 x 480. Video is saved and exported as h.264 QuickTime, and you can email, MMS, or publish to YouTube right from the iPhone – just keep an eye on your data usage πŸ˜‰

In the Photos app you can organise your snaps into Albums or hit the Places icon to remind you where the pics were taken.

The achilles heel of the iPhone has always been its battery-life. Generally I’ll need to recharge my 3G after about 8-9 hours of emails, Facebook, FourSquare, etc – it’s lucky to make it til bedtime. The iPhone 4 life expectancy has an improved and has lasted over a day so far but I’ll have to see how a typical weekday goes.

There has been grumbles about the phone signal dropping if you hold the phone the ‘wrong way’ – to be honest I generally answer the phone with my left hand and have not experienced this. By all accounts using a case is a good remedy. There’s word of an iOS4 update that will cure any problems.

Hello orientation lock! This has sometimes bugged me when reading email in bed – the screen moving from portrait to landscape and back again. Now, just like the iPad, just double-press the “home” button, then swipe that menu bar all the way to the left, and you can lock the display in portrait mode. For some reason there’s no landscape option.

The iPhone 4 is a huge leap from the 3G and, judging by the reactions of 3GS owners, is even a noticeable jump from the last iPhone.

Have you got an iPhone 4? What do you think about it?

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